Cali Cheeses Rack Up Awards, But the Real Winners Might Be Ones You've Never Heard Of

Categories: Cheese

Gordon Edgar, Rainbow's cheesemonger: New California artisans are making magic.
​A half dozen California cow's milk cheeses snagged more than a dozen awards at the 2009 World Cheese Awards earlier this month in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The annual event is a slugfest of more than 2,000 entries and dozens of countries. California winners included Le Petit Dejeuner from Marin French Cheese in Petaluma, Bellwether Farms' Carmody, and smoked mozzarella from West Berkeley's Belfiore Cheese Co. So that means we rule cheesedom, right?

Not exactly. Rainbow Grocery's self-styled cheesemonger, Gordon Edgar, told SFoodie there are sort of more cheese contests out there than even a diligent cheese expert can keep up with. "As a retailer, most of these awards don't mean a hell of a lot. What contests measure is, what is the best cheese at that contest in that room with the judges at that particular moment," he said, even as he admires many of the cheeses that won in Gran Canaria.

Instead, Edgar's excited about some emerging California cheeses that are still hard to find at store counters. "There's an exciting new Marin dairy, Barinaga Ranch, a sheep dairy up in near Marshall, making some amazing cheese in small quantities -- California makes some of the best cheeses in the country, but it doesn't make a lot of sheep's milk cheese." Edgar also pointed to goat cheese makers Bohemian Creamery in Bodega, and Marin's Bleating Heart.

Edgar's first book, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, is due for publication Feb. 17 from Chelsea Green. He also blogs at


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